Bermuda Delays Repeal Of Marriage Equality

Officials say they want to allow time for already approved same-sex marriages to take place.

Bermuda has decided to delay the repeal of marriage equality until May, according to a release from GLAAD. Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown indicated the delay was due, in part, to allow time for any same-sex marriages that already had licenses issued to actually take place.

In last May, Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled that gay couple Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche had a right to marry under the country’s Human Rights Act. But in December, parliament passed the Domestic Partnerships Act of 2017, which overturned that ruling, and Governor John Rankin signed the measure into law in February.

At the time Rankin, insisted domestic partnerships were “equivalent” to heterosexual marriage, but others see it as clear discrimination. “This is a human rights issue. We are taking away marriage equality rights from the LGBTQ community,” Shadow Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons told the Jamaican Observer.

Bermuda is the first country in the world to re-ban marriage equality.

The country’s lucrative tourism industry is expected to take a hit as a result, with some calling for a boycott. Others, however, warn such sanctions will hurt Bermuda’s already TK LGBT community.

Vacationers pumped $431 million into the economy in 2017, a 20% increase from the year prior. According to GLAAD, that gives cruise lines and other tourism-related businesses a lot of influence to affect change.

“The repeal of marriage equality in Bermuda is a demeaning and unnecessary strike against loving and committed LGBTQ couples in Bermuda as well as others around the world who would consider vacationing there,” said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis. “This small walk-back by the Bermudian government to accommodate previously planned weddings shows that pressure from the tourism industry could have tremendous power if they collectively speak out for marriage equality.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.